In the years leading up to Harper's majority the neo-con boys were busy. They were busy setting up contracts, trade deals, pipelines, transmission systems, water legislation, electorates & premierships.
This has occurred in the jurisdictions where water and electricity resources are available to export to the United States. Mainly NL, Que, BC & AB but that is not to say there hasn't been equal pressure put on other provinces resources and politicians.
In NL, the situation started with a Hydro deal in '98 which allowed the establishment of four private dams. The two dams of concern related to the Canadian water privatization threat are Star Lake and Rattle Brook. There was a public outcry and a halt was ordered to the establishment of private hydro facilities, but the two facilities had already been put in place. http://www.releases.gov.nl.ca/releases/1998/exec/0831n01.htm
Between '01 & '03 legislation around these two dams was altered, and in between the water act was created replacing a host of outdated legislation. The wording in the new legislation refers to water licences as opposed to water leases, or permits and this is where the process towards privatizing water, begun in '98 and continued under Danny Williams' administration really starts to accelerate. A similar process of privatization is currently being repeated in the proposed BC water act thanks perhaps to our 'enabling legislation' and the precedent setting case involving Harper and the Abitibi expropriation under NAFTA. In BC, Gwyn Morgan and the Christie Clarke Liberal government are working hard for their corporate friends in regard to water privatization, and what a prize that'll be for the corporate sector if it all goes through. http://www.watershedsentinel.ca/content/ge-and-privatization-water
The Star Lake facility was expropriated in '09 along with the rest of ABH's assets on the Island by the Williams administration. Around that time EMERA first bought into Algonquin Utilities, which not coincidentally runs the Rattle Brook run of river hydro facility. Local concern went to the people impacted as well as the issues of contamination around the millsite but few picked up on the water issues it raised, except a lawyer representing the Council of Canadians.
Shortly after Williams expropriation of Abitibi (ABH)'s assets on the Island Harper paid out $130 million to ABH for Williams actions and effectively granted private water rights to ABH on the Star Lake facility according to the Council. Up to that point there had only been a permit/lease arrangement, but with newly amended legislation and the NAFTA ruling referring to water 'rights', the Rattle Brook facility may be considered 'private' with a licence and 'water rights' associated with it.
Williams signed the EMERA term sheet a few days before stepping down on Dec. 3, 2010. On Dec. 17 (two weeks to the day after his resignation came into effect) there was a large purchase of shares in EMERA (7.5 million with a value around 1/4 billion), and EMERA bought again into Algonquin. EMERA also received the go ahead on the purchase of Maine & Maritime Corporation (MAM) on the 16th which could have also contributed to the triggering of the large and rather anomalous share purchase http://www.emera.com/en/home/mediacentre/recentnews/2010/newsreleasedetails.aspx?SourceParams=reqid-1508712
The question all this raises....Is EMERA setting up in NL to establish a private water market in preparation for CETA? If the goings on in BC & AB are reflective of what is going on here in NL then the question needs to be asked now rather than later, before the deals are signed and sealed.
The latest development occurred just a couple days ago on April 10th, 2012 EMERA bought further into Algonquin on the verge of the term sheet being finalized.
AND AGAIN on July 31st 2012 they buy more into Algonquin -> Emera - News Release Details http://bit.ly/Sqoxqn
So, with the EMERA term sheet set to be signed shortly, is the future of Canadian water hanging in limbo? Lets hope not.
More details to follow as this unfolds. The involvement of the 'Right Honourable' Brian Mulroney, how CETA may impact this deal and what can be done to stop the privatizing of our water.